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Summaries and analysis of recent Delaware court decisions concerning business-related litigation.
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Showing 7 posts in Forum Selection Provisions.
Delaware Supreme Court Explains That Litigants Seeking Application of Foreign Law Have Burden To Establish its Substance
In reversing the Court of Chancery’s decision that Austrian law applied to the interpretation of whether a forum selection clause was permissive or mandatory, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled that, to the extent prior decisions were unclear on the issue, a party seeking the application of foreign law in a Delaware court has the burden not only of raising the issue of the applicability of foreign law under court rules, but also, of establishing the substance of the foreign law to be applied. More ›
Delaware courts generally respect contractual forum selection provisions. When it comes to Delaware LLCs, however, the Delaware statute expressly precludes a non-managing member from waiving its right to a Delaware forum for proceedings involving the LLC’s internal affairs. 6 Del. C. § 18-109(d). And, in general, any waiver of rights must encompass knowledge of the right and clearly expressed intent to relinquish it. This case discusses the interplay between these rules. More ›
Chancery Enforces Delaware Forum Selection Clause and Examines the Limited Circumstances Where a Foreign Nation May Divest Delaware Courts of Jurisdiction
In AlixPartners, the Court of Chancery confirmed its jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes relating to the internal affairs of a Delaware limited liability partnership and explained the limited circumstances in which foreign law may divest the Court of subject matter jurisdiction. The suit arose when an employer, the global business advisory firm AlixPartners, which operated as a limited liability partnership, sued an employee, who also held partnership interests, for breaches of the relevant LLP Agreement, Equity Agreement, and Employment Agreement. Pursuant to the LLP and Equity Agreements, the employee had received equity in two partnerships formed under Delaware law by AlixPartners. More ›
Court of Chancery Clarifies a Plaintiff’s Ability to Bind a Non-Signatory to a Forum Selection Provision
In Neurvana Medical, LLC v. Balt USA, LLC, the Court of Chancery declined to exercise personal jurisdiction over a French company, Balt International, S.A.S., the parent of Balt USA, LLC. The Court rejected Neurvana’s argument that Balt International was so “closely related” to the asset purchase agreement at issue that the agreement’s forum selection clause bound Balt International, even though Balt International was a non-signatory. The Court also declined to assert jurisdiction over Balt International based on the assertion that Balt USA was Balt International’s agent. Thus, the Court granted Balt International’s motion to dismiss. More ›
Chancery Awards $3 Million in Attorneys’ Fees Following Invalidation of Charters’ Forum-Selection Provisions for Securities Act Claims
In December 2018, the Court of Chancery held that forum-selection provisions in three corporate charters were ineffective. The provisions had required any claim under the Securities Act of 1933 to be filed in federal court (“Federal Forum Provisions”). The Court held them to be invalid, because federal securities claims were not “internal affairs” claims for which a Delaware corporation’s charter may choose a forum. Seven months later, the Court granted an application for an all-in award of attorneys’ fees and expenses in the amount of $3 million under the corporate benefit doctrine. Defendants had argued that the award should not exceed $364,723 plus expenses. Reasoning that “the plaintiff achieved a significant and substantive result by successfully invalidating the Federal Forum Provisions,” the Court turned to Delaware precedent to determine an appropriate fee for this kind of non-monetary relief. More ›
Delaware law permits parties conducting their business as limited liability companies to include mandatory arbitration or forum selection clauses in their LLC agreements, even those naming a forum outside of Delaware. And the State’s public policy supports enforcing contracts, including forum selection clauses, unless specifically prohibited by statute or upon a showing of fraud or overreaching. There is an important statutory exception in this context. Under Delaware’s LLC statute, 6 Del. C. § 18-109(d), other than for arbitration, a non-managing member of an LLC cannot waive its right to sue in the Delaware courts for matters relating to the LLC’s “organization or internal affairs.” More ›
Delaware courts generally respect and enforce forum selection provisions in contracts. It is often disputed whether or not certain contracting parties or parties related to contracting parties are subject to such provisions. That fight becomes more complicated when it is not a single contract but multiple related contracts at issue. This decision, dealing with a stock purchase agreement and related production facility leases, wades into these sometimes choppy waters. It addresses several doctrines in this area, including how Delaware courts interpret forum selection provisions, when Delaware courts read related contemporaneous agreements as a single agreement, when Delaware courts apply equitable estoppel in the context of forum selection provisions, and when non-signatories can enforce forum selection provisions against signatories.